Mallika Chopra: Talking to Children About the Batman Shooting

I woke up this morning to emails saddened by the tragic news from Colorado.  Opened up CNN on my phone and saw the headlines: Gunman Kills 12 at Batman Movie.

The alarm went off and my kids woke up. Time to get ready for camp.  While making breakfast, I peaked at my computer for updates, not wanting to put the TV on and expose my kids to the tragedy.  Got in the car to drive to camp.

“Can you put the radio on?”  Just like every morning the same request.

Turned to our favorite radio station, and Ryan Seacrest was chatting with a woman about what happened.  I quickly switched to another station, and same news.  Put the radio off.  My kids whined.

I thought for a minute.  I need to explain to them what happened.  They will likely hear about it from others today at camp.  They should hear about it from me.  At 8 and 10 years old, they are old enough.

And so, it began.  “Girls, I need to tell you about something that happened today.”  Their wide eyes looked at me from the back seat.

“You may hear about something very tragic that happened today.  A man, who was obviously not well, shot and killed people today.”  It seemed to register with Tara, my elder immediately, who was very quiet.  Slowly, I explained the situation to them.  Leela asked if it was like 9/11 – her other association with major tragedy.

Tara wanted to know more details.  Where did it happen?  Did I tell them at the movie theater?  I paused, before I told them the truth.  And then, I actually began to tell them that if ever they are somewhere and feel uncomfortable, if a person is acting strange, I want them to get out of that place.  And if anything scary starts to happen, they need to hide.  As I said these words, I panicked – am I doing the right thing?

Talking to children about things that we cannot even reconcile with ourselves is uncomfortable, intimidating and scary.  But as I struggled with my words, I felt that it was so important that they heard from me what happened.  How much more confusing for them would it be to hear from others.

And I realized that in the end my kids weren’t as traumatized as I thought they would be.  I was proud actually to see how mature they were.  I realized that in empowering them with my trust, in sharing my own confusion, we were more connected.  They embraced the news with sadness and a bit of confusion, but they were ready to go to camp and go on with their day.

Have you talked to your kids about the tragedy of today’s shooting? If so, how? Please share you story so we can learn from each other in this confusing time.



  1. Malika, thank you for your post and sharing your experience. My daughters are 2 & 4 so I didn’t have to address today’s shooting with them, but I remember talking with my then 8 year old son after 9/11. It is hard to talk about these things when trying to reconcile them yourself. I liked what Gotham said in his video address about allowing your feelings. For myself, I feel like my job is to stay rooted in a place of love and hold a place in consciousness for healing. My heart goes out to all those affected by today’s attack.I look forward to following your blog and sharing this amazing journey in conscious parenting with you.

    With love,

  2. I was thinking of what Gotham wrote some time about lack of heros. This 24 year old James Holmes was a lonely person, it seems, and he had to leave his study program I learnt from the news. He said he was "Joker" first thing to the police. It seems nobody was really much awre of his loneliness and depression and took care of him or was able to give him a purpose in life. His mother was a churchgoier and into healthy living. But many children can't just take the belief system of their parents.
    He wanted to assume greatness, I gather from all this. He wanted to leave his own imprint on life. The adolescent and young adult age is known to be a vulnerable state. See here:
    It seems he fled into the myth of Joker and Batman, the only way he could imagine to achieve some level of "greatness". He was deeply lonely, it seems. He wanted to acquire some level of significance and needed more support as a person as well. That's what's slowly emerging as a picture in my mind. I came back to this site to look for the article of Gotham on lack of heros…..